Sweet & Spicy Peach Jalapeño Jam

When you’re sitting in an abundance of peaches, and the jalapeños are right outside in the garden, you start thinking of all sorts of great ideas for them.  This jam is perfect with its kick of heat and the sweetness of the peaches.

Spicy Peach 1

Oh my goodness, have to run out right now and get a wheel of Brie to serve this on.  It’s that good.  And that easy!

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 lbs (about 7-8) very ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped (you should have about 8 cups of fruit)
  • 3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups sugar* (see below, for Ringo En Orchard peaches you can halve this amount)
  • ½ tsp. Lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. Freshly grated ginger
  • 3 TBSP (half a 1.75oz packet) powdered pectin
  • 3 jalapeno peppers**
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Before you begin, place a small plate or saucer in the freezer so you can check the jam’s consistency towards the end of cooking.
  2. (Optional), if you plan on canning your jam, bring a large stock pot of water to a boil and cook your (clean and empty) jars and lids to sterilize them. Using canning tongs, remove the jars to a clean dish towel to dry. Keep the stock pot of water at the ready for sealing the jars later.
  3. To peel the peaches, blanch quickly in boiling water (thirty seconds should do), then transfer to a bowl of cool water. This will help the skins slide off easily using just your hands. One peeled, remove the pits and roughly chop the peaches. Place in a large pot or enameled dutch oven (stay away from bare cast iron or aluminum, as the acidity of the jam can react with the metal).
  4. To the pot with the peaches, add the sugar, 2 TBSP lemon juice, cider vinegar, lemon zest, ginger, and pectin. Stir to combine, and let sit for 10-15 minutes to macerate.
  5. Meanwhile, prep your jalapenos. Remove the stems, and cut the peppers in half lengthwise. If you want a spicy jam, leave all of the seeds and veins in the peppers. For a milder jam, remove some or all of the seeds and veins by scooping them out with a spoon. (See recipe notes for more details.)
  6. Add the peppers to the bowl of your food processor, and pulse until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides if needed.
  7. Add the chopped peppers to the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and place over high heat. As the mixture heats up, gently break up the peaches with a potato masher or fork. (If you prefer a smoother jam, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture BEFORE turning on the heat.)
  8. Bring the mixture to a full boil, and let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from scorching. As the mixture boils, skim off any foam that appears on the surface.
  9. To test the jam, spoon a small amount onto the saucer that’s been chilling in the freezer. This will give you an idea of how thick the jam will be once it’s cooled. If the jam sets up to your liking, it’s done. If it’s too loose, cook a few minutes longer and test again. (Once the jam has cooled on the plate, this is the perfect opportunity to give it a taste. Keep in mind that the jam will taste significantly spicier while it’s fresh than it will the next day. If you’re worried that it is still going to be too spicy, or if it isn’t sweet enough, you can add an additional ½ cup of sugar and cook until completely dissolved.)
  10. Once the jam starts to set up to your liking, remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining TBSP of lemon juice.
  11. Carefully ladle the hot jam into your clean jars (a canning funnel is a big help, if you have one) leaving about ½ inch of head room in each jar. Once the jars are filled, wipe the rims with a damp towel to ensure a clean seal, and screw on the lids.
  12. (Optional) if you want to preserve your jam, return the sealed jars to the stock pot of boiling water, lowering them in carefully with canning tongs, and making sure the water is deep enough to cover the jars completely. Cover the pot with a lid and let the jars process in the water bath for 6-8 minutes. Remove the jars and set them carefully onto a clean kitchen towel. Let sit at room temperature, undisturbed, until completely cool. If you’re using ball jars, the metal lids should make a “pop” or “ting” sound as they cool, and the bump in the center of the lids should no longer flex when pushed down on, letting you know the jars have properly sealed. If any jars don’t seal completely, store these in the fridge and use within a couple months. Jars that are properly sealed can be kept in a cool dark place for up to a year.
Spicy Peach 2

Sweet peaches, just gently stirred with the rest of the ingredients, waiting for their buddy ….. Spicy Jalapeños.

Spicy Peach 3

I opted to use my immersion blender to get a mostly smooth jam, leaving a few chunky bits for a little texture.

Spicy Peach 4

Cook until the jam has this glossy glorious sheen to it.  Once it cools it thickens.

 

This recipe is ENTIRELY from Willow at ww.willcookforfriends.com …. I didn’t change a thing, and it was perfect.  Willow notes that her peaches are not necessarily that sweet, but living here in the Okanagan Valley, and at Ringo En Orchard, our peaches are THE BEST, so I reduced the sugar (according to her suggestion) to 2 1/2 cups sugar.  That was perfect …. the trick is to taste your peaches!

NOTES

*Living here in the midwest, the sweetest peaches I can come by still pale in comparison to true southern, tree-ripened peaches. If your fruit are especially sweet, you can feel free to start with less sugar, and add more to taste. (Keep in mind that if you plan on canning your jam, less sugar means a shorter shelf life.)

**The heat of a hot pepper is contained (mostly) in the seeds and veins. To control how spicy your jam is, you can leave these in (hot!), or remove some or all of them (mild). I found I really liked the level of heat from de-seeding one of the peppers, while leaving the other two. If you aren’t sure how much heat you want, I suggest de-seeding all but one of the peppers, and adjust from there with future batches to find what you like best. (And of course, if you just want some good ol’ fashioned peach jam, you can leave the jalapenos out all together. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!)

Keep in mind that the jam will mellow considerably over the first 24-48 hours after being made, so don’t worry if it seems spicier than you want at first. When I first tasted my batch, it was waaaay spicier than I wanted. The next day? Perfection!

Kale & Mushroom Risotto

I love this risotto!  It has just a hint of parmesan, rather than being driven by parmesan richness.  It is creamy, and a delicious side dish.  Add some grilled prawns and you’ve got a complete meal.

Risotto 6

This creamy risotto packs a vegetable punch with loads of kale and mushrooms.

  • 6 to 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2½ tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup white wine or brandy
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

 

Place broth in a medium sauce pan and heat to a simmer; reduce heat and keep warm.

Clean and chop the mushrooms and kale. Mince the shallot.

Risotto 1

This photo may not show enough kale, but I usually have equal amounts of kale and mushrooms.

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, pot or Dutch oven, heat 2½ tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Add the shallot, mushrooms, kale, and ½ teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

Risotto 3

Love the bright kale against the earthy mushrooms.

Add 1½ cups Arborio rice and stir to combine, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ¾ cup white wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated, a few minutes.

Risotto 2

At this point, you’re ready to start adding the broth. Add ½ cup warmed broth to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Repeat, gradually adding broth ½ cup at a time and stirring, until rice is tender but still al dente and sauce is creamy (you may not need all the broth). The process should take about 20 to 25 minutes.

Risotto 4

Stir in ¾ cup Parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until combined (or turn off the heat and cover the dish for a few minutes). Remove from heat and season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan cheese.

Risotto 5

This is very flexible – tonight’s version included crimini and Portobello mushrooms, but you could use any variety you like.  To make a vegetarian version use vegetable stock.  Make sure you love the flavor of your stock, so important to the finished product. This will lose its creaminess if you can’t serve it right away, so keep a little of the warmed broth if you need to soften it up a bit.

GARLIC HERB BUTTER MUSHROOMS

This is the quickest, easiest and least hands on side dish for your dinner table.  Also, goes perfectly wth a perfect medium rare steak …..

Mushrooms 3

Delicious!  I couldn’t believe how tasty these morsels were – make more than you think you will need, they are sure to disappear in a hurry.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 pounds cremini mushrooms
Mushrooms 1

I had the fresh herbs on hand, so used those, but dried would work well too.

 

DIRECTIONS

    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together butter, garlic, lemon juice, thyme and rosemary; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    • Place mushrooms in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Stir in butter mixture and gently toss to combine.
    • Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until browned and tender, tossing occasionally.
    • Serve immediately, with a little fresh parsley.
Mushrooms 2

Just look at the garlic herb butter coating these delicate little mushrooms, ignore my much used mini sheet pan ….

This recipe was from the “damn delicious” website, and if you haven’t checked out her recipes, you certainly should!

 

Cauliflower & Feta Fritters

O M G – the salty creamy bits of feta combined with the still slightly tender but firm cauliflower bits are enough to make me want these on a regular repeat!!  I often find cauliflower a bit of a hard sell amongst the family members, but this will win over anybody sitting on the cauliflower fence.

Cauliflower 5

These make a great appetizer or side dish.  Serve for lunch with a green salad, any way you try it, they are a winner.

1 small head cauliflower (1 pound florets, i.e. stems and leaves removed), cut into generous 1 to 2 inch chunks
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
Few gratings of fresh lemon zest
3 ounces crumbled feta (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup slivered green onions (optional but I loved the colour and brightness)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes; less if using regular red pepper flakes, which are hotter
3/4 teaspoon table salt or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cook cauliflower in simmering salted water, uncovered, until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes, until firm but tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain well. Spread on towels to dry as much as possible.

Cauliflower 2

Ice water is key to making sure your cauliflower doesn’t get overcooked and retains a bit of texture. Plunge it in right from the cooking liquid.

Cauliflower 3

Let the cauliflower drain so they don’t get mushy. 

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together egg, garlic and lemon zest. Add cauliflower florets and mash with a potato masher until they’re crushed into an average of pea-sized pieces (i.e. some will be bigger, some smaller, but most will be little nubs).

Cauliflower 4

Sprinkle in feta and stir to combine egg mixture, cauliflower and feta. In a small dish, whisk flour, salt, pepper and baking powder until evenly combined. Sprinkle over cauliflower batter and stir just until combined.

Heat oven to 200 degrees F and place a tray inside. On the stove, heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then the tray in the oven to keep them warm until needed. Once all fritters are cooked, mix yogurt with cumin, salt and pepper. Spread fritters on serving platter. Dollop each with cumin yogurt and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.

Do ahead: Fritters both freeze and reheat well. To warm and recrisp them, lay them on a tray and toast them at 400 degrees in the oven until crisp again.
Olive oil for frying

To serve

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 1 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • squeeze fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, and season to taste with the salt and pepper

Full credit for this goes to Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, I only made a few changes, and created my own dipping cream.   She is fritter obsessed, and I am quickly becoming just as obsessed with fritters.  Any vegetable seems to work as a fritter!  I think what sold these as being a bit different is the feta cheese.  Once you fry them up, that feta gets crispy and the flavour just intensifies.

Caesar Salad

Caesar salad 3

Love the textures of a great Caesar salad – contrasting fresh crisp greens, crunchy bacon and croutons, soft parmesan and a creamy dressing.

Everybody needs a great Caesar dressing in their kitchen, try this one and adjust to your families taste.  My grandkids don’t love garlic, so when they are over I usually go light on the garlic cloves but that’s totally up to you!

  • 1 egg (or 1/4 cup mayonnaise)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets (packed in oil)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup oil (I like to use a combo of vegetable oil and really good extra virgin olive oil)
  • dash hot sauce (totally optional)

Combine all ingredients except oil in jar or blender.  Shake/blend really well until smooth, and slowly add oil until emulsified.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, adding more if necessary.

Caesar salad 1

Everybody helps make dinner around here, and Stella is learning the fine points of knife work!  Don’t worry, she quickly learned to rest the knife against her knuckles to avoid trimming her fingers……

Caesar salad 2

Assembling that cheese grater has all Sloan’s attention.

  • Wash your lettuce leaves and spin dry (you can do this ahead of time, wrap in clean kitchen towel and keep in fridge until ready to use, it really crisps up the lettuce)
  • Cook bacon until crisp and crumble.
  • Toss stale bread chunks in olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and toast until dry and crunchy.  (This is also a great place to use dried herbs, and some garlic powder)
  • Grate Parmesan cheese

Toss lettuce pieces in very large bowl with the bacon, croutons and parmesan cheese.  Just before serving toss with dressing just until everything has a delicious coating.  Taste and squeeze a bit of lemon over if you like.

This easily goes from a side dish to a whole meal if you serve Caesar salad with grilled chicken or shrimp, and a side of garlic toast.

 

 

Grilled mushrooms on a cedar plank

As the snow drifts by the window I’m dreaming of making these again ….. smoky from the grill and cedar plank, and bursting with creamy cheesy goodness.

Grilled Mushrooms:Cedar Plank

  • 25 to 30 small cremini mushrooms (about 650 g), stemmed
  • 2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup water-packed artichoke hearts (about 2), drained, finely chopped and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese , softened
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green olives
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 clove garlic , grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

To take these over the top, sprinkle with toasted and chopped hazelnuts, they add such a delightful crunch …. as you can see in this photo I didn’t have any handy this time!

Soak one 12- x 7-inch untreated cedar plank in water for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Meanwhile, using tip of spoon, gently scrape out mushroom gills to widen cavities.

In bowl, stir together Asiago, artichokes, cream cheese, olives, egg, garlic and pepper. Spoon 1 tbsp filling into each mushroom cap, pressing to flatten slightly.

Arrange on cedar plank, filling side up. Top with hazelnuts, if using, or you can always substitute toasted Panko crumbs.  Place plank on grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill until mushrooms are tender and filling is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley. Serve on plank on heat-resistant surface or transfer to platter.

 

If barbecuing isn’t an option for you this can also be done in the oven …. 425 for 20 minutes.

Mushroom Turnovers

Turnovers 12

One of my old time favourite appetizers, I’m not sure why I haven’t made these lately, but so glad mushrooms needed to be eaten, giving us a bite this delicious.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  • 1 8 ounce pack cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus 3 tbsp for the mushroom onion mixture
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, finely diced (should yield about 3 cups once diced)
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg, beaten

At least 2 hours prior to serving:

in large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer combine the 1/2 cup butter and cream cheese until smooth and well blended.

Gradually stir in the flour until just combined.  Gently knead in a bit more flour only if it is too sticky to handle.  Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Turnovers 3

I love the way this dough feels, so soft and supple that it is also very forgiving.

Turnovers 4

Any type of mushroom works with this recipe, but we were happy to put these Crimini mushrooms to good use when friends cleaned out their fridge prior to a trip.                            Thanks Keith and Jean!

 

Meanwhile, in frying pan over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter and saute mushrooms and onions until tender, stirring occasionally.  Allow to cool, then stir in the salt, thyme, sour cream and 2 tbsp flour.

Turnovers 5

I love these silicone cutting boards for food like onions, garlic or meat.  When it goes in the dishwasher I don’t have to worry about my next item smelling funky or carrying germs.

Turnovers 6

Cook just until the mushrooms have released their moisture, and the pan dries out a bit.

Turnovers 7

Cut your dough ball in half, and work with 1/2 at a time, keeping the 2nd ball wrapped.  On a floured work surface roll out dough to about 1/8″ thickness and cut out circles (my cutter is about 2 1/2″ across).

Turnovers 8

Turnovrs 9

When you pinch the edges together make sure you can easily do so, otherwise remove a bit so the turnovers done burst.

 

Onto one half of each dough circle place a tsp of mushroom mixture. Brush edges of circles with some of the beaten egg, fold dough over filling.  Do not overfill or they will burst during cooking and you will lose all that flavour.  With a fork firmly press edges together to seal.  Place on cookie sheet, either non stick or with parchment or silicone lining.  Brush with remaining egg yolk and prick the top with the tines of your fork.

Turnovers 10

These freeze really well (before cooking).  Once you have pierced the tops of the turnovers, put tray in freezer until the turnovers have frozen solid.  Carefully remove and store in air proof container in deep freeze until ready to serve.  Brush with egg wash right before baking, and allow them to bake a little longer.

Bake for 13-15 minutes @ 425, until golden brown and glossy.  Remove from the oven, and allow to cool (if you can) before serving.

Turnovers 11

Brushed with an egg wash prior to hitting the oven, you will be rewarded for the task by the aroma filling your kitchen.  It won’t be easy to wait for them to cool before biting in.